Saturday, July 31, 2010

HOWTO: Starcraft 2 on Linux with Wine

Okie dokie - so I've mentioned before that I play Starcraft 2 under my Linux install with no issues. Since the game's official release a few days ago I have been getting a good bit of traffic on those two pages - so I figured I would put together a quick HOWTO for getting Starcraft 2 working on your Linux distro of choice. The game runs under Wine 1.2 and/or Crossover Games 9.1 with a small bit of work (the latter is easier to make work).

Since free is good I'll talk about the Wine HOWTO first. First off, download and install Wine 1.2 on your system. Next, run the following commands in terminal:

cd ~/Downloads
chmod +x winetricks
./winetricks droid fontfix fontsmooth-rgb gdiplus gecko
./winetricks vcrun2008 vcrun2005 allfonts d3dx9 win7

In the configuration Window it opens go to the libraries tab and enter mmdevapi in the new override for library box and click add. Now scroll through the existing over rides list for mmdevapi click edit and set it to disabled. Finally click on the audio tab and set it to alsa.

If you still have audio issues after doing this and your distro uses Pulse Audio (Ubuntu does) install Wine 1.2 that has been built with pulse audio support with the following commands in terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:c-korn/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

As of Crossover 9.1 Starcraft 2 is listed as "officially support" and as such you will find that it has an entry in the automated games installer. The only issue is that after the game has actually finished installing the StarCraft 2 process hangs around - meaning Crossover never actually knows that the game has finished installing and thusly never creates menu entries for it. Thank fully there is a simple fix for this - after Starcraft 2 has finished installing, open up your system monitor and look for any rogue Starcraft 2 processes and kill them off. After you have done this the CXGames installer will know that it has finished installing and will create the menu entries as it should.

If you have audio issues under Crossover you can open your Starcraft 2 bottle's WineCFG, select the audio tab, and set hardware acceleration from full to emulated.

Also - if you are trying to install from the retail CD (with Wine or Crossover) you might need need to manually mount the disc due to an issue with its split PC/Mac auto mounter. To do this run the following two commands in terminal:

sudo umount /media/SC2*
sudo mount -t udf -o ro,unhide,uid=$(id -u) /dev/cdrom /media/cdrom

Note some drives may use /dev/sr0 (or other mount points) instead if /dev/cdrom. If you are having issues getting it working scroll through the comments for some good tips - if you are still unable to get it working after that, make a comment of your own :)

Also - if you are attempting to get the game running with an ATI card, it was suggested in the comments that making it run under a virtual desktop allows it to run on some systems it otherwise fails to work on.

I tested the above methods on Ubuntu 10.04, Linux Mint Debian, and Chakra - but they should be applicable to any modern Linux distribution. Have any issues feel free to drop a comment below and I will do my best to lend a hand debugging. Happy gaming!

~Jeff Hoogland

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Seven Ubuntu Derivatives worth Checking Out

One of the mottos the Linux community has is "if you don't like it - then fork". While this is interesting idea it has created as many Ubuntu derivatives as the day is long. Don't believe me? Check Distrowatch - as I am posting this four of the eight "new releases" listed on the front page are Ubuntu derivatives. Now personally - I do not think this is a bad thing. Not the same thing works for everyone and when you are new to the world of Linux it is easier to try a different "spin" than it is to learn to configure everything yourself. The only problem with all these spins (and something I've often heard complaints about) is that there is too much choice when selecting what flavor of Ubuntu to install.

I make a point of trying as many different variations of Ubuntu as I can, this way I can be informed when I recommend one version over another to friends and family. The following is a round up of my favorites I have found over my last three years in the world of Linux.

Best Full Featured DVD - Pinguy OS:
This is a spin just recently released and it has become the main OS on my Sager laptop for a number of reasons. Overall Pinguy OS has a very elegant, unified feel to it and careful work has been put into the visual aspects of the operating system with a close attention to detail. The current release is based on Ubuntu 10.04 and Pinguy has says he plans to release a new version with each new Ubuntu release.

Best Full Featured CD - Linux Mint:

Linux Mint is one of the older Ubuntu spins and it is still one of the best. It is where the fantastic menu and update manager Pinguy OS also uses were developed and it set the standard many derivatives have followed of including codecs, flash, and java in their releases (although the latter of these three is not include on the CD version of Mint). Where is Ubuntu has begun changing their default application set, Mint sticks to its roots - still including the Gimp and Pidgin instead of Empathy. The latest release of Mint is version 9 and it is based on Ubuntu 10.04 - Mint follows a release cycle the is typically a month or so behind Ubuntu releases.

Best Windows-Like - Zorin:
Zorin is designed with the intention of making a recent Windows convert feel at home. The default skinning and applets look decently close to Windows 7 and this can easily be changed to look like Windows Xp. Zorin includes flash and media codecs by default and the most recent version is based on 10.04

Best Lightweight - Lubuntu:
Lubuntu leaves a memory footprint right around 100megs on a fully booted system. It uses LXDE and is designed to be quick. The latest release of Lubuntu is based on 10.04 and Lubuntu follows a very close release cycle to Ubuntu. Before anyone leaves a "what about Crunchbag" comment - sorry, I prefer Lubuntu.

Best Netbook Remix - Jolicloud:
Jolicloud is designed to work with as many different netbooks as possible. In fact it is one of the only distros to support the GMA500 out of the box. It is based on 9.04 - but don't worry about this older version number, Jolicloud has some of it's own repositories to provide more up to date packages to it's users.

Best KDE - Netrunner
I really like a lot of the features KDE has to offer - however many of the applications most KDE distros ship do not feel as "complete" as their Gnome counter parts. So while Netrunner uses KDE it still uses nautilus as it's file manager, Firefox for it's webrowser, and VLC for it's media player. It also includes media codecs, java, and flash. One thing I dislike about Net runner though is that it uses Knetwork manager - which I feel is horrid compared to nm-applet. The latest release of Netrunner is based on 10.04

Best E17 - Moon OS:
Moon OS is an E17 distro that is based on 9.04 It looks elegant, is fast, and is decently stable. The only real draw back to it is the fact that being based off of 9.04 is contains mostly older packages.

If you want an update to date version of Ubuntu with E17 you might want to try compiling from SVN or Bodhi Linux.

These are what I feel are seven of the best Ubuntu derivatives and the area in which I feel they shine. Is there another type of Ubuntu spin you think I missed on my list? Or maybe you feel one of my picks should have been something else - if so let me know by dropping a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Must Have N900 Utility Applications

I've talked about my favorite N900 applications before, but today I am going to discuss some applications that add some useful functionality to my favorite hand-held device. These are applications I feel almost every N900 owner will use at some point or another if they are made aware they exist.

#1 RootSH - That is right - with the N900 "rooting" your device is as simple as installing a single package from the official Maemo repositories. You should always have full control of your own computer(s).

#2 Catorise - The default "throw everything in big mess" method of sorting icons in the Maemo application menu is horrid. Catorise takes everything you have installed and sorts it into different menus - just like a desktop Linux distribution does.

#3 Browser Switchboard - If you have played with Firefox or Opera on your N900, then odds are you might have decided you like one of these more than MicroB (the default N900 browser). Browser switchboard add an option to your system settings for changing which browser is the default one selected URLs open in.

#4 Tweakr - If you like to tinker with settings - then meet your new best friend. Tweakr allows you to easily edit more than a few things on your device. Personally I really like the "snap to grid" it enables for desktop icons.

#5 Ringtone Per Contact - A basic phone function that Nokia manged to leave out of Maemo by default - even my flip phone from 2001 could do this. With this package you will be able to have this functionality on your N900.

#6 fMMS - While I am on the subject of functionality Nokia left out of Maemo by default - if you haven't already go grab fMMS. This allows you to send and receive picture messages on your N900, it works very well.

Know of any other useful "utility" applications that add some extra (and useful) functionality to the N900? If so - let me know by dropping a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pinguy OS - Distro Review

My favourite type of distros are Ubuntu based. For some time now I have been making a case for why you should be using Linux Mint. Even though I think Mint is fantastic, I still make it a point to try other distributions. I made a pit stop at Zorin 3 for a short while and even though it had many wonderful qualities it didn't quite knock Linux Mint out of my top spot.

I have now found my new favourite distro and it goes by the name of Pinguy OS. Pinguy OS started off as an Ubuntu 10.04 Minimal CD that was customized like no other to include a fantastic range of default applications, Gnome applets, Firefox addons, and theme.

The default software include -

Sound & Video:
System Tools:
Other:Pinguy OS includes all five of the reasons I listed for using Linux Mint.

Including the Mint Menu...

and even Mint Update Manager.

Just like Mint, Pinguy OS includes all the multimedia codecs you will ever need, Adobe Flash, and Sun Java. In fact the only negative thing I have to say about Pinguy's default software selection is that having Wine-Doors and Play On Linux both installed feels a little bit redundant. The default theme of the operating system largely resembles OSX (including a global menu bar at the top of the screen). There are two docky bars by default, one located at the bottom of the screen which houses your applications

and another down the left side of the screen which displays your main folders as well as any removable media. The Firefox that ships with Pinguy is heavily customized to include a fantastic selection of addons that add an array of features to the browser (and Firefox on Pinguy feels much "snappier" than it does on Mint/Ubuntu).

One last feature I would like to note about Pinguy that I wish other distros would start adding is that the i686 (32bit) auto detects your system memory and if it sees more than 3 gigs of RAM it downloads and installs a PAE kernel for you. Meaning if you have more than 3 gigs of RAM on your system it will all accessible to you right away. The Pinguy installer also uses the internet to auto detect and setup your timezone and keyboard layout for you.

Next time you are looking to install Ubuntu on your own, or anyone else's system, you should seriously consider using Pinguy instead - if you do odds are you will be pleasantly surprised.

~Jeff Hoogland

Blackboard - No Linux for Online Education

In addition to being a Linux Advocate and working 40+ hours a week I am also a full time student. Due to schedule constraints I often take classes online at Governors State University. To manage their online classes GSU uses a system called Blackboard. If you've stopped by my blog here before you probably know that I run various forms of Linux on all of my personal computers. In addition to this I am almost always using a bleeding edge browser build. It was the bleeding edge part that made me assume when I saw this message:

That is just didn't like the latest Firefox I had installed. For an entire trimester I just clicked past this Window (the website itself worked perfectly fine in my bleeding edge Firefox). Earlier this week however I was curious as to just want browsers were "supported" by the Blackboard system. It was then that I discovered what they really meant by "supported browsers" was "supported operating systems and browsers".

That is right - not a lick of Linux support (or even listed compatibility) in sight.
Nevermind the fact that Linux with the Firefox browser works fine for accessing the webpage - they just refuse to test it (or if they have tested it they refuse to list it as working). Now, for someone such as myself this isn't really a big deal. I see a message such as this one, shrug my shoulders, and see if it works anyways (which it does in this case).

My problem with things such as this is that what if one of the many people I have installed Linux for visit a webpage such as this one? Most people are easily intimidated by messages such as this and more than a few would not even try to log in after seeing their "browser" is "not supported". I am really hoping messages such as these will become less and less frequent as Linux gains more desktop adoption and operating systems such as MeeGo and ChromOS become pre-installed on more netbooks.

Oh, if you would like a bit of irony - when you search the keyword "linux" on the blackboard website you can find instructions for setting up the service on a Linux server... Anyone else know of any other websites the cry "no Linux", but work fine with the penguin anyways?

~Jeff Hoogland

A New Cycle in the Vinyard - Bordeaux, Crossover, and Wine 1.2

July 16th, 2010 marks the next release in the "stable" line of Wine releases. Periodic "stable" releases of Wine are important because they are heavily tested to ensure that no regressions have occurred (meaning software that was working, will continue to work) between versions. It has been over two years since we saw Wine 1.0 stable released (which feels like a life time in Linux years - I mean comon that's a whole Ubuntu LTS release ago). This new release brings with it over 3,000 various bug fixes, as well as added support for 64bit applications. For a complete change log check here.

New stable releases of Wine are so important that my two favorite commerical Wine products, Bordeaux and Crossover, have both jumped right in Wine 1.2's new stably goodness with soon to be release product updates.

In addition to all the improvements Wine 1.2 brings to the table Crossover's 9.1 release also includes fixes that allow Star Trek:Bridge Commander and Modern Warfare 2 to function properly again. Their change log also notes "Made several application profile tune-ups" so hopefully your favorite games will perform a bit better under this Crossover release than they did with older versions.

The soon to be released Bordeaux 2.0.6 release sports a few very important updates in addition to Wine 1.2 - these include:
  • Support for Firefox 3.6.3 and multimedia plugins
  • Support for VLC 1.1.0 (this is mostly for BSD and OpenSolaris users)
  • Many Steam fixes (Including fixing this nasty bug)
Beyond all of these Bordeaux is also the first Wine binary package to add support for the ever more popular Pulse Audio (default sound server in Ubuntu for some time now):
Also worth mentioning is that in celebration of the Wine 1.2 release Bordeaux is currently having a 50% off sale - 10$ for this product is a steal. It is well worth it for the time it can save you if you use Wine software often on your Unix systems.

~Jeff Hoogland

Thursday, July 8, 2010

HOWTO: Ubuntu Linux on T101MT

I wrote a HOWTO for getting Linux working on the T91MT a couple months back and as I mentioned here I ended up changing to the slightly larger T101MT. Since Unix based operating systems are the only thing I have running on my hardware it was only natural I would install Ubuntu on my new tablet. The following is what I did to gain full functionality of the tablet under Ubuntu (And Linux Mint and Zorin).

Enlightenment runs great on tablets, check out a video of Bodhi Linux running on the T101MT here.

#0 Download System Updates
Make sure your system is up to date by running

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

#1 Setting Up the Touch Screen

By default when you press on the touch screen your mouse cursor will jump to the upper left hand corner of your screen. We need to do a couple of things to get this working properly.

sudo dpkg -i eeepc-t101mt*.deb
sudo dpkg -i egalax-multitouch*.deb

Next, we need to install the kernel drivers for the touch screen. To do this you need to first identify which kernel revision is installed on your system. To do this run

uname -r

in terminal.

If you are running the 2.6.32-21 kernel, download and install
this file.

If you are running the 2.6.32-22 kernel, download and install
this file.

If you are running the 2.6.32-23 kernel, download and install
this file.

If you are running the 2.6.32-24 kernel, download and install this file.

If you are running the 2.6.32-25 kernel, download and install this file.

After you have installed all three of these packages reboot your netbook. When it finishes booting back up go to
System->Administration->Calibrate Touch Screen and go through the configuration. You should now have a working touch screen.

#2 Making Function Keys Function

Some of the function keys do not work OOTB. To fix this run

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

in terminal. In the file this opens look for the line that starts with "GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT" and replace the entire line with the following

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_osi=Linux acpi_backlight=vendor"

Upon the next reboot your function keys should start working.

#3 Fixing the Camera

On some T101MTs (my own included) the camera displays an upside image when used. To resolve this run the following in terminal

sudo apt-get install build-essential
cd ~/Downloads
tar xvfz v4l-utils-0.7.92-test.tar.gz
cd v4l-utils-0.7.92-test
make PREFIX=/usr
sudo make install PREFIX=/usr

And your orientation should now be correct. Also note if you are trying to use use your webcam with Skype, by default Skype uses it's own version of this file. To correct this load Skype with the following command

LD_PRELOAD=/usr/lib/libv4l/ skype

#4 Fix the Microphone

If your microphone does not work OOTB run the following

sudo apt-get install pavucontrol && pavucontrol

Then go to input settings and uncheck the three boxes present (speaker, shield, and check) and select either "Front Left" or "Front Right" and drag it to 0%. Your microphone should now be working (check your sound preferences to confirm this).

#5 Multi Touch Gestures

To enable some basic multi touch gestures in some applications (pinch to zoom and two finger scroll) download this file and then run the following in terminal

cd ~/Downloads
tar xvfz twofing-0.0.6b.tar.gz
sudo apt-get install build-essential libx11-dev libxtst-dev libxi-dev
cd twofing-0.0.6b
sudo make install

Now go to
System->Preferences->Startup Applications and select "add". Call your entry whatever you would like, but under command put

twofing --wait

Restart your computer and you should now have multi-touch enabled for your applications that support it (anything with scrolling and zoom in/out).

I think I covered just about everything you need to do to have a fully functioning T101MT under Ubuntu (If I missed anything let me know). Also - I did not come up with this process on my own. Credit goes to many hard working people on the
Ubuntu Forums who packaged this all together. What I have posted here is more a condensed version of a 20+ page thread so you can get your system working with a bit less reading :)

Have any questions feel free to drop a comment below and I will do my best to lend a hand.

~Jeff Hoogland

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Linux Hardware - Lets Get Something Straight

Maybe I missed the memo - but whoever said Linux works with all hardware?

Don't get me wrong, I think Linux is awesome (poke around on my blog some more if you don't believe me) and I openly (and often) suggest Linux to family and friends as an alternative to Windows for their computing needs. As such I've ended up butting heads with other friends and family who are techs that feel Linux is a poor operating system for a desktop computer because "Linux doesn't work with my X". Ahh yes, I completely understand. Just because Linux didn't work with your hardware means it is "not ready for main stream" or "is a poor operating system".

If the back end of a screw driver doesn't work for pounding in a nail, is in the screwdriver's fault? If a full size motherboard doesn't fit into a micro-atx case, is it the motherboard's fault? If OSX may not run on non-Mac hardware, is it OSX's fault? If Linux doesn't work with a piece of hardware that was only designed for Windows, is it Linux's fault? Now, maybe before you downloaded Linux someone may have told you that it "just works with all hardware". I hate to be the bearer of bad news but - you were lied to.

You have every right to be upset. In fact, if I where you I would take your download back to where you got it from and demand a full refund. Heck, I'd even demand twice my money back.

You don't buy a tool for one job and expect it to do another job it wasn't designed to do. In the same respect, if you don't do your homework before buying hardware it might not work with Linux. Does a lot - heck I'd even say most - hardware work when powered by the penguin? Yep. By no means does this mean all hardware will work under Linux. In fact until we can start getting manufacturers to start developing drivers fully cross-platform there are always going to be some operating systems that are left out - and sometimes that operating system will be Linux.

It is just how things work, sad and annoying as this may be.

~Jeff Hoogland

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Four Great Gnome Panel Applets

Gnome is the most popular Linux desktop environment and one of it's key features that makes it so wonderful is the "gnome panel". For those unfamiliar the "gnome panel" is the bar that is typically located at the bottom (and top sometimes) of the screen where your menu, task-bar, and icon tray are located. If you have never done it, try right clicking on some blank space and click "add to panel". You will be presented with a list of applets you can add to the panel. While there are a good number to choose from by default, there are piles of other applets you can find online to install. The following is a list of my four favorites I use on my various Linux systems around my house.

Namebar -

Namebar allows you to optimize screen space when you maximize an application by moving the title bar and minimize/maximize/close buttons onto the gnome panel. Download the Namebar in .deb form from here. Also note that you will need to make a small edit to your compiz settings to have it properly remove the gtk bar when maximized.

Global Menu -

Global Menu is another great way to save screen space (with GTK applications). It does this by moving the file/edit/ect part of the menu to the gnome panel (similar to the OSX menu). You can install global menu with .deb files you can find here. Global menu does only work for GTK applications however, so KDE apps, Firefox, and OpenOffice will not function with it as of yet.

DockBarX -
DockBarX is designed to replace your normal task that displays your loaded applications. Instead of displaying the application's name, it simply shows the program's image icon (similar to a dock or the Windows 7 task bar). Hovering the mouse over a loaded application gives a window preview of the application:

You also have the option of "pinning" a loaded application to DockBarX so you can quickly load it later on:
To install DockBarX run the following in terminal -

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dockbar-main/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install dockbarx dockbarx-themes-extra

Gnomenu -
I saved my favorite for last! One of the things I mentioned about Zorin and Linux Mint is their main menu, Ubuntu's default "custom menu" feels bland and looks a bit dated. Gnomenu is not only flexible and customizable but has several great looks to choose from:

To install Gnomenu run the following in terminal

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnomenu-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install gnomenu

After installing any of these applets simply right click on blank space on one of your gnome panel and select "add to panel" and find it in the list. All of these applets are also decently customizable, right click on the applet and "select" properties and poke around a bit.

Anyone else know of fun/useful Gnome Panel applets that are not included by default in most distros? If so, let me know by dropping a comment below.

~Jeff Hoogland

Hackintosh - Apple at a Reasonable Price

So as I mentioned once before the cost of purchasing Apple hardware is outrageous compared to non-Apple hardware. That being said, OSX has been gaining a lot of ground lately (it seems every fifth laptop around campus has a fruit stamped on the back of it and OSX is gaining more games) and I like to try and keep up with the technology world so I figured it was time to give OSX a try.

Lo and behold - my new Macbook Pro:

Now since I did not have 2,000$ laying around to purchase a Macbook capable of gaming I decided to give the Hackint0sh Project a try. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered my Sager laptop was almost fully functional under OSX. In fact after a bit of hacking and Googling everything other than my Intel Wifi card is functioning under Apple's operating system.

If you are looking to setup your own Hackint0sh computer here are a few useful tips that I learned along the way -

Hardware -
If you want to run OSX the right hardware is essential. OSX supports a very limited amount of hardware, so do your homework before purchasing a computer! In case this isn't obvious - get an Intel processor. In terms of graphics cards it appears that just like with Linux, nVidia chips enjoy better support under OSx86. With wireless chips, you are going to want to get the same type of wifi card they use in a real Macbook: Broadcom and Atheros are good bets (pick the latter of the two if you also want good Linux support). When it comes down to it, also check the OSx86 wiki.

Dealing with Kexts -
A "kext" stands for "kernel extension". They add hardware support to the OSX operating system, odds are you will deal with installing a few of these to get your system up and running. is the best source for all of these and they are easy enough to install with the Kext Helper. A couple useful things to note about Kexts though -

Install them one at a time, if you get a Kext that does not agree with your system it will cause "kernel panic" at startup. If this happens boot into safe boot with the -x kernel argument and remove the kext you installed from the /System/Library/Extensions/ directory.

If one version of a kext does not work, try another version of the same kext. For instance, I tried three versions of the VoodooHDA kext before I found one that worked.

If you do change out a kext, you are going to want to "fix your file permissions" and rebuild your "kext cache". To do the first of these go to Applications->Utilities->Disk Utilities->First Aide->Repair Disk Permissions to take care of the second, at boot add the -f argument (I would also add the -v argument, so you can watch the progress instead of just wondering where it is at).

Support -
There is a good community for getting help with your OSx86 PC. The Hackint0sh forum is a good place to start. If you are hoping for some real time help, there is an IRC channel:
Address -
Channel - hackint0sh

Or drop a comment below and I'll do my best to lend a suggestion or point you in the right direction.

I'm still tinkering around with the operating system but, I must say I am enjoying OSX quite a bit. Do I think it good enough to make up for the outrageous cost of Apple hardware? Not quite, but with a Hackint0sh setup it is easy enough to get OSX working on non-Apple hardware if you do your homework.

~Jeff Hoogland